30 minutes | Feb 25th 2020

The Reality of Duality

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Most of us don’t have just a single face. We have many different faces for different people and different environments. 

But when we talk about diversity and inclusion in the corporate space, a common sentiment goes something like this: Bring your authentic self to work

But really, who does that? 

Nobody — at least not in those simplistic terms — argues UPS Executive Communications Manager Janet Stovall, chief speechwriter for CEO David Abney.

Stovall moderated a recent panel discussion at UPS’s headquarters on the topic of authenticity and duality and how the concepts overlap. 

She chatted with UPS Chief Human Resources Officer Charlene Thomas, a leading figure in the company’s efforts to build a diverse workforce around the world in which employees reflect the communities they serve. 

Stovall also spoke with Valerie Rainford, national diversity expert and author. As former head of JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Black Leaders strategy, she oversaw a nearly 50-percent increase in black senior executives during her tenure.

In their wide-ranging conversation, the panel explores the nature of authenticity, common misconceptions about it and how the corporate world can incorporate duality to improve not just business but society at large.

Authenticity thrives in organizations truly committed to unlocking the power of diversity — a commitment, the corporate leaders remind us, evidenced by inclusion across every level of the organization. 

Ultimately, the panel says, authenticity comes down to how you exhibit and communicate your duality to the world. They each speak to the all-too-common experience of being the only person who looks like them in a meeting, whether with colleagues or C-suite leaders. 

But how do you leverage that experience to bring something to the room that nobody else can? How do you tap into your authentic self to create value for your company — and actually recognize and champion what makes you unique? 

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